There's no place like South Sydney
Despite the Roosters changing their name three times to try and claim inner city Sydney – they have never represented the beating heart of the inner city. Our territory starts at the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we are South Sydney, that has never changed and we’ll always represent the heartbeat of this city.
Sean Garlick felt that when he moved from Souths to the Roosters for the 1994 season.
It took his dad, who was born a Rabbitohs man, months to come see him play a game. It wasn’t out of malice, they loved each other, it was out of a deep-running aversion of anything to do with the ‘Tricolours’.
It was at the Roosters that ‘Garlo’ learnt that rugby league’s greatest rivalry was a clash between a hollow, sporting team - the Roosters - and a cultural icon in the Rabbitohs.
“One thing I can always remember, is the difference in reaction to when the Rabbitohs won,” said Garlick.
“I distinctly remember how much Rabbitohs players, staff and supporters celebrated every win.
Every win was just fantastic, it was great, it lifted the whole area. You would walk down the street and the place was alive on the back of a South Sydney win.”
In 1994, Garlick, a Souths junior, made the move to the Roosters after three years with the Rabbitohs.
While former dummy-half knew the feud between the two clubs was significant, he never expected the roots of this traditional rivalry to run so deep.
“It was very awkward for me going from the Rabbitohs to the Roosters and then back to the Rabbitohs,” said Garlick.
“Ask any former Rabbitoh, who has gone over to the dark side and heaven forbid play for the Roosters, they will say the same thing and I absolutely felt the same way.”
Heralding from a diehard Souths family Garlick knew the decision to transition to a rival club was always going to be a hard choice to make; but for his father, it was simply an unfathomable change.
“My father grew up a Rabbitoh all his life, as did his father before him,” explained Garlick.
"When he found out I was going to the Roosters he was really concerned and he told me it was going to take him awhile to get over it and asked if I didn’t mind him not coming to the footy for a little while until he got his head around it, and I said that was fine, I didn’t want him to feel bad.”
For Garlick, the magnitude of his father’s reaction was not just surprising but also a massive insight into the relationship between Rabbitohs and Roosters fans.
“To be honest, I didn’t think he would be so affected by it, so it didn’t really occur to me. I suppose I was just thinking about myself and where I was going and what I wanted to do,” explained Garlick.
“It was something that really resonated with me just how difficult it was for South Sydney people to cheer for the Roosters - it is one of the great rivalries of our game that I don’t think will ever go away.”
Whilst playing on the field, the rivalry between the two foundation clubs is fierce, off the field the relationship between the two sets of supporters are estranged.
“Back when I was playing, the Rabbitohs and Roosters both played out of the Sydney Football Stadium,” said Garlick.
“When my Dad finally got his way out to see me play, I asked him after the game how was it and he goes, ‘you know what, I’ve been living here all my life and there wasn’t one person there that I knew, I just couldn’t believe it.’
“It just goes to show how different the South Sydney supporter is to the Roosters supporter, they’re just different people.”
Being a part of the fabric of both Clubs, Garlick couldn’t pin point why the two Clubs were so divided but always felt more at home in Red and Green colours.
“It was like coming back to an old girlfriend I felt like I was home I was coming back for my final two years, I was going to be 30, it was a great opportunity to reunite (with everyone) it was a great thing to.
“To return to a place where you began your football, to return to your team was a blessing and a perfect way to end your career.”